Argent, Nazareth: Sundown, Mile End, London

SUPPOSE A Rock-n-Roll band gave a concert and no one came – a thought that might have flashed through Rod Argent’s mind as he scanned the three-quarters empty Mile End Sundown last Thursday.

It was a lazy, disconsolate gathering and the presence of Nazareth on the bill didn’t help things. The crowd, rears planted firmly to the ground, scattered themselves across the hall and watched with idle curiosity – coming alive for Nazareth’s ‘Morning Dew’ and the closing portion of Argent’s set.

Could it be the locals were giving the thumbs down to these two acts? Or is it the Sundown itself? As rock venues go it’s a fair to average sort of place – superior to the clinical, ineptly handled Top Ranks but sterile and soul less compared with the better concert halls.

Argent were much the same as expected, laying on a competent, contrived sort of performance. Rod, in a recent interview, recognised that the band’s number one priority is to get them some fresh material together.

Last week there were at least two numbers I can’t remember hearing in recent sets – ‘Keep On Going’ and Chuck Berry’s ‘Around And Around’, a campy version of which they provided as an encore. By this time most people on the lower deck had pressed to the stage front to peer at Russ Ballard’s hairy chest.

The rest of the set included things like ‘Sweet Mary’, ‘Tragedy’ and ‘Hold Your Head Up’, which recently earned a gold disc.

Indisputable force behind the group is Rod Argent himself. His organ and electric Piano playing, if not dazzlingly brilliant, is the perfect counter-attack to the standard runs turned in by Ballard on guitar and Jim Rodford on bass. He sets off the static chorus line in ‘Hold Your Head Up’, for instance, with a series of chords that builds a ferocious sort of tension.

Stage flash is a contagious epidemic currently sweeping the music scene and both Argent and Nazareth have been bitten.

Nazareth, a vastly improved Scottish rock line-up, are well aware that this has been the ingredient lacking in the past. Vocalist Dan McCafferty, at the bidding of the rest of the band, is moving forward to take on the audience – chatting between songs, coaxing active involvement, shaking his body and shoving the mike down the back of his trousers.

Apart from numbers from their two albums – including ‘Fool About You’, ‘Country Girl’, ‘Red Light’ and ‘Morning Dew’ – they tried out a new piece called ‘Paper Sun’. It’s a slow-moving, waltzing balled that gets bigger and noisier as it moves along. But the opening bars are especially strong with McCafferty showing us another facet of that amazing voice.

© Andrew TylerDisc, 11 November 1972

Leave a Comment